August 19, 2018

Beer City, U.S.A.

StokerCon™ attendees do not live on bread alone (though it would be cheaper if we did). Since we don’t, however, there is always…beer.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, known as Beer City, U.S.A., has more than eighty breweries within the city and the surrounding suburbs—more craft beer per square mile than any other place on earth. In the coming months, this blog will highlight a few of the more outstanding brewpubs within walking distance of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

I will start by saying that the highest rated brewpub in town—I’m looking at you, Google aficionados, who will undoubtedly do the research—is not within walking distance. Brewery Vivant, a small, rustic venue located in a former church, is indeed the best brewpub in Grand Rapids. The menu is limited but excellent, as are the brews. Their hallmark beer has the slightly tongue-in-cheek name of Big Red Coq. If you want to visit this quaint but immensely cool establishment, call for an Uber or Lyft and expect to wait to get in.

A good start on a brewpub tour, if you want to pound the pavement instead of pay for a ride, would be the Knickerbocker Brewpub, owned and operated by the New Holland Brewing Company. A short, five-minute walk from the hotel, the Knickerbocker, which will celebrate its second anniversary next month, has a broad menu: chicken wings to oysters to burgers to pizza. New Holland is also the home of Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, one of the most popular beers in the state. And, as a bonus, May is typically the month when the brewery offers one of its limited-release Dragon’s Milk varieties, sold only at the brewpub. The 2018 flavors were salted caramel and chocolate cherry. I have had a glass (or two…or three) of the salted caramel stout. The flavor was insanely good.

The Knickerbocker contains both a standard bar and a mostly outside, old-world-style beer garden; the beer garden is partially enclosed, in case of inclement weather. From their website: Enjoy a full drink menu including craft beer, artisan spirits, handcrafted cocktails, wine and cider. The Knickerbocker presents a rustic, seasonal menu showcasing local and regional agriculture, old world techniques, with a fresh perspective; including heirloom produce and scratch cooking over fire.

In my humble opinion, the Knickerbocker is a great place for a lunch break. It is both quaint and contemporary, and the atmosphere lends itself to unwinding.

To learn more, check out their website here